'08 Draft Pick Barometer

Who's hot? Who's not? Who's fair-to-partly cloudy? Lane slaps on his official Woolly Bear Festival cap, and does his best Dick Goddard in measuring what storm clouds may or may not be looming around the '08 draft class.

- TE Martin Rucker may not be a finished product, but he is certainly ahead of the curve. The long and lengthy TE has improved dramatically since arriving in the Browns' rookie camp in early May. Rucker is much cleaner in his routes, is working on the blocking aspects of the position and catches the ball cleanly. Periodic lapses in concentration yields some drops, which the staff has clearly stated some displeasure about. What makes this young man special is his maturity, dedication to hard work and the application to his game of what he is told by the staff and other players, such as Kellen Winslow. The TE has played special teams at the collegiate level and will see a steady dose of this unit in 2008. Unless the wheels come off the wagon, this rookie will make the 53-player roster.

- LB Beau Bell was slowly coming along, but showing some signs of progress until a knee injury crept in. Bell had surgery to clean-up his knee and is expected to miss anywhere from two-to-six weeks. At the time of his surgery, Bell was struggling to make plays in the defensive scheme and was not a factor on special teams. The time off the field will certainly provide this rookie an opportunity to gain some meaningful study time. Bell makes this team if healthy due to the team projected potential; the knee is another issue in question.

-When WR Paul Hubbard came to Cleveland, he didn't look the part of a viable WR prospect. Hubbard dropped passes on a consistent basis, ran below-average routes and did not fare well in drills. Slowly through these sessions and into the June mini-camp, Hubbard started to make some catches and display very good down-field speed. Once training camp started, Hubbard portrayed Jekyll and Hyde, but those days are becoming fewer and farther between. The Hubbard of today, following some sound instruction, is catching the ball with his hands much more often, nearly on a consistent basis. The WR still has some issues with the ball in flight, but he is fighting off the line, running hard into cuts and getting open down-field. A month ago I didn't see Hubbard being nearly one the best five or six WR's on the roster; today this rookie WR is coming on as the coaching staff unearths his untapped potential. I wouldn't be surprised to see him making the final 53 due to that potential.

- NT Ahtyba Rubin is a player that projected to go higher in the draft, but slid to the Browns in the sixth round. His build is that of a natural NT, though Rubin has not displayed the physical ability to fill that role as of yet on a consistent basis, he is on the rise. Surprisingly, the rookie hadn't been strong at the point of attack, he was being moved out of position and played with little leverage. In recent sessions, Rubin has fared better as he is getting a better pad level, using leverage and displaying his physical strength. This rookie still has a way to go but could eventually become a viable option at the position, even in a depth role. Unless something changes in the upcoming weeks, Rubin could be balancing on the bubble, but his recent work should ultimately place him on the roster.

- OLB Alex Hall comes from a small school; that is the only thing about the progress of Hall that we will note as small. Hall is a very long-armed, rangy type OLB, and he is very quick and angular. Outside of his quickness, Hall's wing-span is a weapon to leverage and fend off blocks off the corner, as well as an asset against the pass. Watching this rookie from day one, his progress has been startling and he does not appear to be leveling off as many rookies do. Considered a project, the Browns have found a keeper in Alex Hall. This rookie is very similar to starting OLB Kamerion Wimbley.

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